Monday, July 13, 2009

Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps

Today we are swinging our minds back to the Beijing Olympic Games in China last year. The pinnacle of all sporting performances, Beijing provided us with two remarkable stories of a couple of marvellously talented athletes.

Firstly we review Jamaican sensation, Usain Bolt. He darted to victory in the showpiece 100 metres final in a new World Record time of 9.69 seconds. A remarkable feat, even more so when we see how he nonchalantly slowed down during the final 20 metres as he milked the thunderous cheers and applause.

Not satisfied with the 100 metres, he then went on to win the 200 metres, breaking the long-standing, widely-thought impossible-to-beat World Record of 19.32 seconds set years ago by American Michael Johnson. Usain Bolt shaved off two hundreds from the mark, and completed a wonderful hat-trick of gold medals by helping the Jamaican 4x100 metres sprint relay team to gold.

Michael Phelps provided a week of drama, excitement and pure brilliance in the Water Cube. He won a record haul of eight gold medals in a single Olympics, winning every single race he entered. Day after day, I watched him on the TV each morning, winning gold after gold, setting World Records galore. I found myself connected to him and I cheered him on feverishly to win.

Perhaps the most enduring image came during the 4x100 metres relay when he helped the USA to gold as his teammate just touched the wall a fraction of a second ahead of second place in one of the most dramatic of finishes to a swimming event. Erupting in pure emotion, he screamed for joy, fists clenched by the side of the pool, ecstatic that his and his teammates efforts had paid off with victory by the narrowest of margins. It was a moment that will live long in my memory, one of those unforgettable sporting moments that were just meant to be.

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